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2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

PIED5570M Terrorism

30 creditsClass Size: 70

Module manager: Dr Margherita Belgioioso

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

Our module provides students with a sophisticated understanding of the issue of terrorism and the key challenges academics face in establishing an effective definition. Students will engage in a critical assessment of its possible causes as well as the relationship between media and terrorism as an act of communication. Building on an overview of earlier forms of modern terrorism, we will investigate claims about the emergence of a new, qualitatively different type of terrorism in the form of al-Qaeda, ISIS and similar organizations. The discussion of terrorist tactics such as suicide bombings will allow us to delve deeper into the political and academic debates surrounding the rationality of terrorism and the threat it does or may pose to developing and developed countries alike. We will then develop an appreciation of the debates on the effectiveness of counterterrorism strategies as well as exploring ‘new’ avenues in terrorism research.


This module aims to provide:
1. A sophisticated understanding of the issue of terrorism and the key academic debates surrounding its definition.
2. A critical appreciation of the relationship between media and terrorism.
3. Analytical awareness of the changes and continuities in the character of terrorism and thus the ability to contribute to the academic debate over the possible emergence of a ‘new’ form of terrorism.
4. An advanced investigation into the motivations behind the use of terrorist violence including tactics involving suicide bombings at the individual and organizational level.

5. An introduction to different counterterrorism responses, allowing for a critical appreciation of the deployment of counterterrorism strategies and an evaluation of their effectiveness.

6. The opportunity to develop transferable skills such as the appreciation of different interests and the ability to defend a point of view in seminars.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module students will be able to demonstrate:

1. An understanding of the context and history of terrorism;
2. A sophisticated understanding of the academic state of the art relating to the study of terrorism including the merits and pitfalls associated with different methodological approaches and theoretical assumptions.
3. An ability to appreciate the changing nature of terrorism and consider possible future directions of the phenomenon.
4. A nuanced appreciation of various academic arguments relating to the use of high-profile terrorist tactics.


- Terrorism: Definition and Concepts
- Empirical trends in terrorism
- Terrorism and the Media
- Approaches to the Study of terrorism: Psychological Approach and Rational Choice Approach
- The root causes of Terrorism: Poverty, Education and Deprivation
- The root causes of Terrorism: Ideology
- Terrorism as a tactic: Attrition, Intimidation, Provocation, Spoiling
- Terrorism as a tactic: Outbidding and Suicide Bombing
- Countering Terrorism: Proactive Dilemma and Military Intervention
- ‘New’ Avenues in Terrorism Research

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours278.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

In addition to researching and writing the 2500 word essay , students are required to engage with the required readings for weekly seminars. This means that students need to plan for a weekly reading of roughly four hours to prepare fully for our group discussions in seminar.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress will be monitored via weekly seminar discussions as well as the week eight essay.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 2500 word essay100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Student progress will be monitored via weekly seminar discussions as well as formative feedback on an early 1000 word version (submitted mid-term) of the 2,500 word end-of-term Essay .

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 04/12/2023


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